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Celebrating Likhulu’s first Board Meeting and the election of our President

There we were… every bit as nervous as Harry Potter when he donned the Sorting Hat at Hogwarts (if you aren’t familiar with J.K. Rowling’s fantasy compendium- I highly recommend the books for light and entertaining holiday reading). While Harry worried he would land up in Slytherin house,Tânia, Marcos and I fretted that our board members had forgotten about or decided not to join our inaugural meeting- none of them had arrived yet.

Each of us displayed our anxiety in interestingly unique forms of concern. Tânia was chewing her lip, Marcos paced the open rooftop of our office looking for signs of the awaited guests- hoping that the Friday traffic was responsible for this delay, while glancing at his dive watch every few seconds. I made frantic last-minute tweaks to our presentation, and tried not to think about how I would deal with a no-show.

Yassin was the first to arrive- at 16:30, in the Zoom waiting room. As has become common practice these days- our Zoom room was politely asked to please wait for the arrival of the full house before we kicked off. To our palpable relief, the rest of our board arrived just before 5PM, and Marcos’ hunch about bad traffic was spot on.

We now had to impress, and so set about the task of trying to amaze and inspire a group of very important and highly respected people who sat expectantly at our boardroom table. Jorge Ferrão from the Universidade Pedagógica de Maputo- occupied the seat opposite mine- impressive in his suit, and slightly intimidating apart from his warm smile. The rest of our board were comforting and familiar to me- having worked alongside most of them at one point or another over the past 12 years. I relaxed as Marcos began Likhulu’s introduction- he has a way of bringing positive energy and purpose into a room. Tânia looked like she was also following his lead, and so we found our rhythm.

Before Marcos set the Likhulu scene- what we were all about, the objectives we were pursuing, and presented milestone timelines, Madyo was elected as our President, Celia was voted in as Vice, and Manuel took the helm of our Financial Council. Tânia walked us through the Strategic Plan that she was developing, and I shared the story of how Likhulu came to be, together with the daft framework of our Marine Conservation Leadership Programme- MCLP. The feedback from our board was positive, encouraging, and filled us with confidence and a sense of deep obligation- not only to Likhulu’s vision and mission, but to the people that agreed to sit on our board and support our work.

Not every board meeting demands celebration, nor sparking wine- but our very first one was memorable, deeply special to Likhulu’s Directors, and thus required commemoration. Tânia organized champagne glasses, while I persuaded Marcos that we should probably sip our bubbles from these rather than the Likhulu mugs he had arranged as gifts. With the (appropriate) glasses raised, we toasted to our new Foundation, and the phenomenal work it was about to start achieving through a dedicated, tenacious, and passionate team- Cheers/ Saude!!